Vienna, the former home of the Habsburg Dynasty and now Austria’s capital, is full of imperial history, classical music and monumental architecture, which makes it one of Europe’s most visited city. Because of this, Vienna’s beauty comes at a high price and backpackers can easily blow their budget trying to experience all that Vienna has to offer. However, with the help of this guide, backpacking Vienna can easily be done without putting a hole in your pockets.
Read on to see how you can stuff your face for less than €5.00, see a world class opera for €3.00, or explore Vienna’s architectural beauty without spending a dime.
What You’ll Find in This Vienna Travel Guide
- How Much to Budget for Vienna
- How Long to Visit Vienna
- Cheap Places to Eat in Vienna
- Cheap Places to Stay in Vienna
- Top Things to Do in Vienna
- Popular Events & Festivals in Vienna
- How to Get Around in Vienna
- General Travel Tips for Vienna
- Day Trips from Vienna
How Much to Budget for Vienna
If you are backpacking Vienna on a budget and follow our suggestions in this travel guide you shouldn’t have to spend more than €40.00 – 60.00 a day. During our three day visit in August we only spend about €70.00 a day for the both of us, so it is definitely possible to do it on even less.
How Long to Visit Vienna
We recommend you plan about 2 – 3 full days for your Vienna trip. That should give you enough time to see all the highlights of Vienna without feeling rushed.
Cheap Places to Eat in Vienna
1.) Street Food
When backpacking Vienna keep an eye out for cheap street food such as Döner Kebabs and Sausages.
Döner Kebabs: The best things about Kebabs is that they are cheap, filling and can be found pretty much everywhere. In non-touristy areas such as near the main station, i.e. Westbahnhof, Döner Kebabs cost between €2.50 – 3.00, otherwise you will pay around €4.00 – 5.00. Döner shops also sell a variety of other cheap eats such as pizza, wraps and fries.
Würstelstandl (Sausage Stands): Try one of Austria’s many sausages at one of the sausage stands in Vienna. Our favorites are Käsekrainer, or Bratwurst with a slice of bread and mustard or a Bosna. Prices are usually around €3.00 – 3.50 but can be more expensive in touristy areas. Sausage stands are pretty much everywhere. You can’t miss them!
Most supermarket chains (except Hofer and Lidl) have a deli section where you can buy a sandwich for very cheap, €1.00 – 2.50 depending on what you order.
If you want to eat a meal at a restaurant, we recommend going for lunch as a lot of places offer cheap 2 – 3 course meals for lunch, i.e. Mittagsmenü for under €10.00.
Here is a list of our top cheap eats in Vienna:
Wiener Deewan | Liechtensteinstraße 10 1090, Wien
At this Pakistani buffet, you can eat as much as you like and pay as much as you want. However, drinks have a fixed price! They are open for 23 hours everyday except Sundays and public holidays! The pay-as-you-want policy is genius, and I know you’re probably thinking, let’s stuff our face and only pay a euro, but don’t! Pay a fair price! Don’t abuse this great concept and ruin it for other people.
Buffet Colosseum | Nußdorfer Straße 4, 1090, Wien
Buffet Colosseum offers you the opportunity to taste some traditional Viennese dishes for a cheap price, with nothing costing more than €8.00. For example, a traditional Wiener Schnitzel with fries costs only €6.80. Brötchen mit Aufstrich, which are small slices of bread with spread, are the cheapest items on the menu, costing between €1.50 – 3.00 depending on the spread. If bread spreads aren’t your thing, you can order from their daily lunch menu (Mittagsmenü) which costs only €6.20 or eat the day’s special (M,W,F) for €6.70.
Pizzeria Mafiosi | Reindorfgasse 15, 1150 Wien
Pizzeria Mafiosi is known to have the biggest and cheapest pizzas in Vienna, as nothing on their menu cost over €6.00 and the pizzas are big enough that you just might leave with leftovers. They also serve pasta, soup, sandwiches and so much more!
Cheap Places to Stay in Vienna
Vienna has a wide variety of hostels with many budget hostels that are surprisingly cheap for such a touristy city. The average cost for a bed in a shared dorm is about €15.00 and private rooms start at about €45.00 for two people.
Our recommended hostel in Vienna:
Ben and I stayed at Hostel Ruthensteiner and couldn’t recommend this hostel enough! After all, Hostel Ruthensteiner has been crowned the “Best Hostel in Vienna” since 1968, so clearly they are doing something right!
Hostel Ruthensteiner has the cleanliness of a 5 star hotel with the vibes of the perfect backpackers hostel. It also has a 24 hour reception service, beautiful communal garden, cheap all you can eat breakfast buffet, friendly staff, great environment to make friends, happy hour specials and it’s just five minutes away from the main station (Westbahnhof). Oh and of course it’s cheap! Everything a backpacker can wish for.
One of the things we liked the most about the hostel is that it breathes arts and music. Wherever you go you find beautiful paintings and other art work. Guests can even use the hostel’s instruments (piano, drums, guitars, ukuleles, and even an accordion) free of charge! I tried the accordion and let’s just say I am not too good at it.
What are you waiting for, book this hostel already…
There are three camping sites located outside of the city center. The most popular one is Camping Wien West as it’s the closes to public transportation and it’s only 30 minutes from the city center. All the campsites have basic facilities such as toilets, showers and a kitchen to cook. For more details and prices visit www.wiencamping.at
Another possible accommodation option is Airbnb. You can find listings for rent for as cheap as €15.00 a night. That’s not bad, considering you get more privacy than in a hostel. Click here to get €40.00 off of your first stay with Airbnb with our Airbnb coupon code.
Top Things to Do in Vienna
If you don’t visit this gorgeous palace while in Vienna, it’s safe to say you didn’t really visit Vienna! Schönbrunn palace is not just impressive in size but also in interior design, and in history. This world heritage site is almost exactly the same as it was over 400 years ago, that alone warrants a visit. With over 40 rooms and a beautiful garden you can easily spend half a day exploring the palace grounds. The garden is free to visit so be sure to take a stroll around or climb up to the Gloriette for a gorgeous view of the palace and the city.
If you are searching for something unique to do or you are just tired of hearing about those boring Emperors and how rich they were, you should look into doing a PolaWalk tour. It’s completely different from your typical tour as you learn nothing about Vienna’s history, yet you get to capture it’s beauty through the lens of a vintage Polaroid camera.
You get just 8 films to frame the best side of Vienna. Which means you get super picky about the things you shoot unlike with a digital camera where you can snap hundreds of pictures without blinking an eye.
Not a professional photographer? No worries, the guys from Polawalk do a great job turning you into a Polaroid pro, so you walk away with something more meaningful than a 50 cent postcard of Vienna.
For more information visit www.polawalk.com
State Opera (Stadtoper)
Always wanted to see an opera but never had the deep pockets to afford it? Well, here is your big chance. The Vienna State Opera offers individuals the opportunity to purchase standing room tickets to world-class operas for as low as €3.00. Yup, I said €3.00. Just show up ~90 minutes before an opera begins and buy a ticket at the standing room box office. Look for the sign that says “Stehplatz-Kasse | Standing Area”.
Please Note: The opera is closed from July to September. Alternatively, you can attend the free Vienna Film Festival during those months at the Rathausplatz (City Hall Square).
Free Walking Tour
Explore Vienna and learn about it’s history with a free walking tour! The tour meets at 10 am or 2 pm in front of the Albertina Museum right next to the Bitzinger sausage stand. Like all free walking tours you pay/tip the guide based on what you think he deserves.
The Naschmarkt has been in existence since the 16th century and is Vienna’s biggest open-air market. In this 6 block long market, you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables and exotic herbs from all over the world, cheese, baked goods, meats, and seafood. Take a stroll through the 120 stalls and restaurants, and pick up some snacks for a picnic in one of Vienna’s beautiful parks.
Note: The market is closed on Sundays and on public holidays.
Take a stroll through one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, Wurstelprater, or relax and have a picnic under the shady trees in one of Vienna’s largest green oasis, Green Prater. No matter what you decide to do, there is something for everybody at the Wiener Prater. One of the most popular things to do is to take a ride on the Giant Ferris Wheel, which gives you a beautiful view over Vienna.
Though built to protect Vienna from flooding, this 21 km long island is now known as the recreation mecca of Vienna. People come here to play sports, relax at the beach or attend festivals. One of those festivals is the three day open-air Donauinselfest, which is held every year in June. Donauinselfest is Europe’s largest open air festival and best of all it’s free!
The Hundertwasser Haus is a colorful apartment building designed by artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser who incorporated nature with forested roofs in his designs. This place is truly a work of art. Though Hundertwasser Haus can only be admired from the outside as people actually live there, visitors can go into the Hundertwasser Village free of charge. The bars and stores there are built in the same style as the original Hundertwasser Haus. If you want to see more of Hundertwasser’s work, you can visit the KunstHausWien (Art House Vienna) Museum which is less than ½ mile away from the Hundertwasser Haus!
St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom)
The St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which dominates Vienna’s skyline, is also Vienna’s most popular attraction. You can admire its gothic style facade and equally impressive interior free of charge. However, if you want to go to the top of the tower to get a nice view of Vienna, you do have to pay about €4.00 – 5.00.
Though often missed by tourists, Kahlenberg is a popular excursion destination among Vienna’s residents. And for good reason. Once at the top of the hill, visitors are rewarded with a stunning view of Vienna. Kahlenberg is a nice 4 hour hike or a short bus ride (Bus #38A from Heiligenstadt) to the top.
Ring Strasse, Austria’s National Library, Capuchin Imperial Crypt (Kaisergruft)
Popular Events & Festivals in Vienna
The Donauinselfest is a free open-air music festival with artists from all over the world. The festival usually takes places at the end of June.
Vienna Film Festival
The Vienna Film Festival is said to be the largest cultural and culinary festival in Europe. It is free and takes place in front of the city hall from July to September when the state opera is closed.
If you are in Vienna from mid-November to Christmas Eve make sure to visit the main Christmas Market in front of the city hall for some delicious mulled wine and local delicacies.
New Year’s Concert
The New Year’s Concert, with the Philharmonic Orchestra, is one of Vienna most prestigious events and is televised all over the world. Tickets to the live concert are surprisingly cheap, starting at €35.00. However as you can imagine tickets are extremely high in demand so the only way to get one is by entering a drawing.
How to Get Around in Vienna
Like most European cities, Vienna is a very bike friendly city which means you can get pretty much anywhere within the city by bike! But 9 times out of 10 you won’t be traveling with a bike, so why is this budget tip even relevant? Well because there is a bike rental company, CityBike that allow people to bike around Vienna for free. Yes I said free!
More about CityBike: For the first hour, you can explore Vienna free of charge then after the first hour it costs €1.00, then €2.00 for the 3rd hour and so forth. After the 120th hour, your card is charged a flat rate of €600.00.
Insider tip: To keep the cost low, use the bike for 1 – 2 hours then return it. Wait 15 minutes then rent another bike, and just like that your clock starts all over again including the free hour bonus! For more info: www.citybikewien.at
Vienna is also a very walk able city and you can easily get to popular attractions by foot especially since most of them are within the 1st district. So obviously the cheapest option is to exercise those legs and walk.
3.) Public Transportation
Vienna has a great public transportation system, with buses, trams and underground trains taking you wherever you want. A ticket is valid for all public transportation services.
Here are a few budget saving tips:
- Save money by purchasing tickets at the machines and not on the bus/tram as tickets cost more on board.
- Make sure to validate your ticket once you get on board at the the validation box at the entrance. Otherwise, if you are caught without a validated ticket you can be charged a hefty fee of about €100.00.
- If you are planning to stay for 72 hours or longer, we suggest purchasing the weekly pass as it is a few cents cheaper than the 72 hour pass.
- To get to and from the airport there are three options (CAT, AirportLines Bus and U-Bahn), each varying in time and cost. Though it will take 10 minutes longer, we recommend taking the U-Bahn to save money as it only costs €2.20 one way. Compared to the CAT which costs €11.00.
General Travel Tips for Vienna
1.) Save on Museum Visits
Vienna has over 120 museums with almost all of them charging an entrance fee of around €10.00 or more. However, the city museums open their doors for free on the first Sunday of every month, and the Museum of Applied Arts offers free entry every Tuesday from 6 – 10 pm.
The following museums are always free: Geldmuseum, Kunsthalle am Karlsplatz, MUSA.
Insider Tip: If you plan on visiting multiple museums, the Vienna Card might be a worthy investment as it offers discounts on over 200 attractions including museums, shops, and food. The ticket also includes free public transportation.
2.) Drink Tap Water
Don’t purchase water bottles (though super cheap .45 cents), just carry around a reusable bottle and refill it at one of the many “water fountains” (over 600) around the city or even in the bathrooms as Austria’s tap water comes directly from the Alps.
3.) Sunday is a Day of Rest
Shops and supermarkets are closed on Sundays and public holidays with an exception of a few stores here and there. Try to do your shopping before!
Day Trips from Vienna
If you are in Vienna for more than a couple of days than think about doing some day trips to the surrounding areas. Here are some popular day trips from Vienna:
- Melk Abbey
- Mauthausen Concentration Camp
- Eggenburg Beinhaus
- Lichtenstein Castle
- Seegrotte Hinterbrühl
Get Insured Before Backpacking Vienna
No matter how long or short your trip, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and trust us, you don’t wanna get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. So don’t leave home without it. We recommend World Nomads.
Even if you don’t get travel insurance with World Nomads, please make sure to get travel insurance from somewhere.
Other Travel Guides
If you are more of a book person and would rather carry a physical guide with you while backpacking Vienna, we recommend Lonely Planet Vienna. Remember though, don’t follow it step by step, use it as a guide instead.
If you enjoyed our backpacking Vienna on a budget guide, please share it on social media and consider coming back to plan your next trip with our other detailed backpacking guides.
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